By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — Get ready for Round 3.
Which could very well just be a precursor to Rounds 4 and 5.
This weekend, Miami County wrestlers will begin begin their journey into the postseason with the sectional tournaments at Centerville High School (Division I), Graham High School (Division II) and Covington High School (Division III).
Of the hundreds of matches taking place this weekend, one of the most highly anticipated ones will be the Division III contest at 138 pounds between Miami East’s Alex Isbrandt and Troy Christian’s Jared Ford, which almost certainly will take place in the sectional championship match.
The wrestling website borofanohio.net has had Isbrandt and Ford ranked first and second in the state, respectively, throughout the course of the regular season. The two already have met twice this season, with Isbrandt winning both matches, 6-5 during the state team duals and 3-1 at the Lima Central Catholic Thunderbird Invitational.
If the two should square off in the championship match this weekend, it likely won’t be the last time they face off this season. The two could face one another again in the Division III district tournament and, quite possibly, the state tournament in Columbus.
Of course, that’s one of just dozens of storylines to keep an eye on heading into this weekend’s sectional tournaments. Here are several others:
Troy and Piqua both will be competing at the Centerville I sectional this weekend.
For the Trojans, senior Joe Pascale will finally get to wrestle in the postseason once again. After qualifying for districts and placing sixth as a freshman, Pascale missed his chance at the postseason each of the last two years thanks to injuries suffered during the season. He’ll be among the favorites to win a sectional championship at 126 pounds this year.
Troy junior Shane Shoop (170) was a district qualifier last year and, if healthy, will likely be making a return trip this year.
Tippecanoe, the lone Division II team in Miami County, will be competing at the Graham 2 sectional. The Red Devils will be able to avoid nationally ranked powerhouse Graham — which will be wrestling in the Graham 1 sectional — through both the sectional and district tournaments.
The Red Devils’ Caleb Blake (145) was a state qualifier last season.
The Covington sectional may be the toughest in the state. Three county teams — Miami East, Troy Christian and Covington — all will be competing at Covington. Miami East is favored to win the sectional team title, but should get pushed by Troy Christian. Covington also should rack up plenty of team points.
All three teams have multiple state-ranked wrestlers, according to borofanohio.net.
For Miami East, Olivia Shore (No. 6 at 106 pounds), Garrett Kowalak (No. 34 at 113 pounds), Graham Shore (No. 1 at 120 pounds), Kaleb Nickels (No. 10 at 126 pounds), Isbrandt (No. 1 at 138 pounds), Zabe Strubler (No. 7 at 145 pounds), Travis Ferguson (No. 19 at 152 pounds), Matt Welker (No. 29 at 182 pounds) and Brenden Dalton (No. 11 at 220 pounds) all appear in the state rankings.
Ranked in the state heading into the postseason for Troy Christian are: Caleb Shroer (No. 7 at 106 pounds), Ethan Turner (No. 2 at 113 pounds), Jacob Edwards (No. 2 at 132 pounds), Ford (No. 2 at 138 pounds), Austin Awan (No. 21 at 145 pounds), Craig Montgomery (No. 29 at 170 pounds), Damon Beatty (No. 10 at 182 pounds) and Nick Baker (No. 15 at 220 pounds).
Covington’s Kellan Anderson (No. 18 at 106 pounds), Cael Vanderhorst (No. 7 at 113 pounds), Riley Richards (No. 37 at 126), Kerringten Martin (No. 15 at 152 pounds) and Gage Kerrigan (No. 27 at 195 pounds) all are state ranked.
Milton-Union’s Peyton Brown (No. 34 at 120 pounds) and Dylan Schenck (No. 14 at 145 pounds) both are state ranked, as well.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong
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